Help me figure out something I saw when I was a kid.
We moved and had to stay in a motel a few days awaiting delayed furniture
to arrive. It was an old style single level, drive up to your room type
I distinctly remember that out in back there was a structure about the size
of a phone booth with slats and a water spray. It's possible there were
two, one for each wing of the motel.
I was kindergarten-aged so that's all I know.
It's not hard to deduce that it was part of their A/C system but I'm
curious what was most likely. Would a small motel be likely to have had a
chiller system, circulating chilled water to room units? Or was it more
likely that the rooms had independent systems but they were water-cooled
and plumbed to the tower(s)?
This would have been mid-1960's. Unfortunately I don't recall anything at
all about the room units. I was more interested in the chocolate and
orange Illinois Central passenger trains speeding by on the tracks just
across the highway.
I used to stay in a motel in Vegas with something like that. Pipes into
ceiling mounted exchanger, with noisy fan. You turn the fan on or off. I
remember owner mentioning about shutting one unit down to conserve.
I can think of 4 types of systems that could be employed, in a small motel
system, I will put them in order of what I think could be the best to the
1/ Small independent water cooled air conditioning units, one for each motel
unit. Using the cooling tower water for condensing.
I suggest this as you only need to run the units where the motel units are
rented out. In the case of a break down of an air conditioner only the area
serviced by that system would be affected, unless of course there was a
cooling tower or pump problem.
2/ A central chiller with a water cooled condenser, with the chilled water
being piped around to individual fan coil units for each motel unit.
In this case you need to run the chiller if only one unit is being rented
out. If the chiller breaks down the whole system does not work.
3/ A central air conditioning refrigeration plant with refrigerant being
piped around to individual fan coil units for each motel unit
In this case there is quite a large amount if refrigerant in the system and
if a leak occurs it would be expensive to fix it. Once again if only one
unit was being rented the refrigeration system would have to be run. An
unloading type compressor would possibly be used in this system for economy.
Again if the refrigeration plant breaks down the whole system does not work.
4/ A central air conditioning system that ducts air to individual motel
Again the whole system need to be run if only one motel unit is rented out
and if it breaks down the whole motel has no conditioning
Of course each motel has its own requirements and this is a generalization.
On Sunday, July 8, 2012 9:30:12 PM UTC-4, email@example.com.Sword of Baal wrote:
Agree. And they can be very efficient. The building I work in has such a system, and it is very low on energy use. But as far as I know this type setup was never used in the 60s.
In general I dislike having the compressor in the sleeping room adding the noise. Also, the way most are set up eliminates any chance of humidity control - the ubiquitous PTAC is awful, and all motel window units have mold problems. But they are cheap, and as you point out when one breaks only one room is down.
In the 1960s almost certainly this was the setup.
I'll also guess it was a dry climate. Water towers have some efficiency advantages in dry climates, where in a moist climate (like Virginia where I work) air cooled chillers are easier.
Yes well I suppose it all depends on how much the owners wish to spend.
Compressors in or close to the condition space can be noisy, but are one of
the cheaper installs.
Then in the case of water cooled small package units (around a couple of
horsepower) located away from the sleeping area, and having some internally
insulated ductwork and having the unit in a sound insulated area would be
I live in the tropics and cooling towers here are rare (if any).
Today the maximum here is to be 36 c (96.8 f)
Currently (3 PM) it is 33 c (91.4 f) and 58% RH (around 77-78 f wet bulb I
I used to see a lot of abandoned small wooden cooling towers on older 1
and 2 story buildings around downtown Birmingham but I haven't noticed
any lately. I may experiment with one some day. My friend LM owns a
small sheet metal and fab shop and we've been talking about building a
swamp cooler of some sort for the shop because it's very difficult to
work in there in this hot weather we're having. o_O
Not being a resident of the USA, I am not fully familiar with all the
weather conditions over there, but I would have though where you live the
humidity would be a bit high for a desert cooler.
I lived and worked in Sydney Australia for many years and desert (swamp)
coolers were useless there. The air conditioning cooling design conditions
in Sydney were 90 f DB 73 f WB.
The swamp coolers work well in the desert areas of OZ
Design of systems cooling towers in Sydney was entering wet bulb of 73 f
and a leaving water temperature of 85 with a return water temperature of 95
Looking at a swamp cooler there I guess you could expect a water temperature
of 80-83 f (at a guess) with an entering wet bulb of 73. Let us assume 80 f
water and then running the air though to cool it a 5 degree drop? So if the
entering air was 90 and the supply air was 85 f, with a humidity of around
That would not make the factory very cool and pleasant
I worked in a desert area for a few years and they had a large building and
although it had a refrigerated air conditioning system (lots of electronics
inside) they had a large 'room' that had water sprays that cooled down the
water and then they ran it though a coil to cool down the entering (fresh)
air. This room was a bit like a large cooling tower.
Out in this desert area, on could wash your clothes and hang them on the
line and they would be dry in 10 minutes during the hot weather. It could
get up to 113 f out there. It did get above 116 once it seems.
Talking about hot weather in Australia there is a town called Marble Bar,
they had some hot weather.
//Marble Bar has an arid climate with very hot summers and mild to warm
winters. The town set a world record of most consecutive days of maximum
temperatures of 37.8 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) or more,
during a period of 160 such days from 31 October 1923 to 7 April 1924.\\
In Adelaide the capital of South Australia they had a heat wave in 1939, 8
days of extremely hot weather rising to a maximum of 117.7 f
Although Adelaide is on the coast it tends to be hot and dry in the summer.
On 7/9/2012 1:09 AM, firstname.lastname@example.org.Sword of Baal wrote:
Swamp coolers are not suitable for cooling a residence in this area but
are often used for business and industrial sites that produce a lot of
heat when in operation. I've repaired them for dry cleaning plants and
they're often used to cool makeup air for commercial kitchen exhaust
hood systems. In some places they're used to provide some cooling for
outdoor patios. Of course, cooling towers are used for air conditioning
systems in the larger institutional campuses like hospitals here where
chilled water is used for air conditioning. The smallest AC system I've
ever worked on that used a cooling tower was a 120ton system for a
bowling alley that had two 5H60 Carrier open drive compressors and heat
exchangers. The largest was one of the 4,000ton chillers in a chilled
water plant for a hospital campus that had upwards of 16,000tons of
cooling capacity in the one plant that was one of several on campus. ^_^
Well you are in the area so you would know what is going on there.
I installed a few small water cooled systems. In fact while living in Sydney
I had a 8 HP chiller for cooling my house with a cooling tower on the roof.
I serviced other water cooled systems that were not all that large, a couple
of Carrier 6.5 HP systems come to mind.
My system on my home worked well, except for one day. I had designed the
system with a fairly heavy hand and thought that I would never have a house
full of people on a stinking hot day. It happened when I had about 30 people
in there for a party and it was around 100 f outside.
It would have been OK but they all crowed in one room, if they had been
spread out around the house it would have coped OK.
The chiller had a 8 HP Chrysler compressor in it and I had built the whole
system myself. That was the smallest one I ever installed.
I had a 20 foot x 16 foot room with a bar in it and a refrigerated beer
chiller for draught beer and they all hung around the bar.
I do not know if they use these type of beer coolers in the USA.
The beer chiller was a 'temprite' which is a flooded sealed pressure chamber
with the beer passing though a stainless steel coil in the liquid
refrigerant in the chamber. The temperature of the beer is controlled by a
back pressure valve. It can cool down beer from 100 f to 39 f instantly and
depending on the size of the condensing unit (Mine was a 1.5 HP semi
hermetic) it can can handle a hell of a flow of beer.
At a construction camp I worked at once they chilled their beer with
temprites and one night it was a 'free beer night' and they managed to drain
a 18 gallon keg in 20 minutes................
All that gear is sitting in pieces in my shed now as I have no use for it.
BTW the beer chiller ran on R12, and I cannot be bothered setting it up
again and changing the type of gas in it.
I also built a self contained unit and used a 1 HP Kelvinator air
conditioning compressor in it, it too is in the shed and also has no R12 in
What's your local humidity like? I suspect
Birmingham Alabamamama is a bit too
humid for swampers to help.
Christopher A. Young
Learn more about Jesus
My friend LM owns a small sheet metal and
fab shop and we've been talking about building a
swamp cooler of some sort for the shop because
it's very difficult to work in there in this hot
weather we're having. o_O
On Saturday, July 7, 2012 6:54:39 PM UTC-5, Chet Kincaid wrote:
Chet, You needed to see where the pipes from that equipment went to ; might have required you to bust down a door leading to the mechanical room to find out...but more than likely it was either a small Cooling Tower that cools condensor water on a small water cooled chiller that pumps chilled water to each motel room , or, an evaporative condensor for a stand alone compressor unit .
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